Background: There is little information on the prevalence of hypertension and other modifiable cardiovascular risk factors in community-dwelling elderly in the Netherlands and the potential impact of improving antihypertensive treatment on major cardiovascular events.
Design: Cross-sectional analysis of Dutch community-dwelling subjects aged 70-78 years without dementia who were included in the cluster randomized preDIVA trial (Prevention of Dementia by Intensive Vascular care).
Methods: The prevalence of hypertension and other cardiovascular risk factors are described for participants with and without a history of cardiovascular disease (CVD). Projected benefits of blood pressure decrease are calculated using data from a meta-analysis and a large national registry.
Results: Of 3534 subjects, more than one-third (n = 1230, 35.2%) have a history of cardiovascular disease. Overall, 63% of subjects have two or more cardiovascular risk factors amenable to treatment. Systolic blood pressure (SBP) is ≥160 mmHg in 37% of patients with CVD, of which 28% is untreated. In subjects without a history of CVD, 41% have a SBP ≥ 160 mmHg of which 52% is untreated. A 5-15 mmHg decrease in SBP is projected to prevent 12-32% of coronary heart disease and 16-41% of strokes, respectively. This corresponds with 14-38 prevented cases within 2 years in our intervention group (n = 1895).
Conclusions: Hypertension and other cardiovascular risk factors are very common in elderly subjects. Current (primary and secondary) prevention programmes appear insufficient. Improved antihypertensive treatment has the potential to prevent a substantial proportion of strokes and coronary heart disease in this population.